“The plot, obviously, is kind of difficult to explain, like an earnest, pared-down, hipster Foucault’s Pendulum. Not only are all of the plot turns above laid out through a multiframed narrative, replete with several people’s footnotes, but the events are interwoven with disquisitions on the history of map-making, Situationist philosophy, urban planning, and pop music.” At Slate, our own Lydia Kiesling reads Catie Disabato’s The Ghost Network. (ICYMI, Dan Lopez reviewed the book for The Millions.)
“One of the joys of literature is that we can always push back against established ways of speaking and seeing—and nothing has to be blown up.” Mark Z. Danielewski, whose latest novel, the first installment of a 27-book series called The Familiar, has just been released, writes for The Atlantic‘s “By Heart” series about “signiconic” writing, the orneriness of his work and the graphic novel Here. Pair with our 2012 interview with Danielewski.
For its November issue, Wired asks guest editor President Obama for a list of his 10 essential books. The magazine estimates that reading all of them, including James Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time, Katherine Boo‘s Behind the Beautiful Forevers, and Elizabeth Kolbert’s The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History, will take only eighty-nine hours.
In the sixties, when he was a student at Cambridge, Stephen Greenblatt came across a book of Persian art. The book inspired a lifelong interest in the region, which in part explains why, after the University of Tehran invited him to give the keynote address at the first annual Iranian Shakespeare Congress, he packed his bags and headed over to the Middle East. In The New York Review of Books, the Harvard professor and Swerve author writes about his experience.
“It’s likely Lucia would have felt more comfortable watching a bull be gored in a Mexico City arena or huddling among winos on a corner in Oakland than she ever felt at her first place on posh Mapleton Hill.” Elizabeth Geoghegan for The Paris Review on Lucia Berlin, whose A Manual For Cleaning Women is out now.